As I sit in front of my television, watching news coverage from Ferguson MO, I find myself at an absolute loss of words. Ferguson is a warzone.
All the things I learned about in school about the civil rights movement is happening right now in front of my eyes. All the images of protests, militarized police, and fleeing African Americans that I’ve seen numerous times in history books and documentaries are now being recreated in real time on my television screen. It’s all so unreal, but unfortunately it’s very real.
My emotions are flowing in so many different directions. Naturally, I’m angry. I’m mad as hell that a young black male was stripped of his right to live and no justice has been brought down on his behalf. I’m mad as hell that the judicial system that is supposed to be
in place to provide order and protection for its citizens is protecting the man who unjustifiably took this young man’s life. I’m extremely pissed that the character of the victim, Michael Brown, who is no longer alive to defend himself and whose body remained in the street for up to four hours after his death, is being slandered. I’m mad that there has been no arrest, no indictment, and no resemblance of any type of justice for this crime. However, had the tables been turned and had this young man chased and gunned down a police officer, he’d have been in jail within the hour.
Then on the other hand, I’m proud. I’m proud of all the young people who are respectfully and peacefully demanding that their frustrations be heard. I’m proud of the unification of a community who has for a very long time been dealing with a discriminatory judicial system. I’m proud of the thousands of people who have not rested and are committed to the call for justice for this slain young man. I’m proud of the young people who are dedicated to remaining peaceful in protesting and are encouraging others to do the same. I’m proud of all of those who have rallied and gathered and prayed and supported the Brown family, and who refuse to remain quiet.
Then my emotions sway to disappointment. For all of the young people rallying and protesting positively for a change and for justice, there is a hand full of young people who have the wrong idea. I understand that frustrations are running high and that anger has reached a boiling point, but violence and looting and rioting is not the answer. Running around without self- control and without restraint does not advance the cause of justice. It sets the movement back! It deters from the call for justice. It gives those police who think we are a threat under normal circumstances a cause and a reason to over police our communities and to profile and threaten the lives of our young people. Actions taken in protest in a non-peaceful way are not the answer.
I find myself in disbelief. The way things are being handled by police in Ferguson are frightening. Seeing police in full riot gear with armored trucks and weapons pointing and aiming at civilians…. Tear gas. Sound cannons. Smoke bombs…. Ferguson is a warzone. Police vs. People. And all the information is conflicting. When asked by reporters, police officials say they act in response to unruly protesters, only acting when danger ensues. However, most reporters, who are also eyewitnesses to the events, tell stories of peaceful protesters deterring the advances of violent ones. They also report police closing citizens into certain areas but then demanding they move; all prompting the arrest under the guise of “civil disobedience”. You can hear in the background of reports, officers yelling and proclaiming that they will mace and arrest reporters. Reporters also report witnessing police arrest peaceful citizens and even citizens who are attempting just to get home.
Largely, though, I’m in a state of shock. I find myself shocked and disappointed at the number of people who are unaware of what’s happening in Ferguson or even who Michael Brown is. Also I’m disappointed at the indifference that I’ve encountered among people who are aware of what’s happening. It’s amazing to see so many people so COMFORTABLE with the situation. What is it going to take for people to realize that this is something we all need to be fighting mad about? When is the death of an unarmed, innocent young black male going to matter? Next time? Because believe me, if we continue to be comfortable with police profiling and targeting our people, there WILL be a next time, and next time it may be you. Think about that. There is no difference between Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and any of our family members or us. If we continue to be comfortable with being seen as a threat for simply existing, then we open ourselves up for this type of injustice to continue.
There is a lot happening daily with this situation. It’s utter mayhem. It’s been called a defining moment in the nation. I’m hoping it will be a defining moment for our young people. I’m hoping that Michael Brown’s death will be a catalyst for young people, especially young black people, to step up and become active in the shaping of our nation. I’m hoping we, as a generation, become more knowledgeable of what is occurring in our communities nationwide. Our ignorance is bliss for those who want to control us and strip us of the rights our elders literally fought and died for. Our comforts within a “post-racial America” leave us vulnerable for bigoted and prejudiced actions to continue.
Ferguson is a warzone. Let’s not have all of this be for nothing….